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Quest Means Business

Amid Hope for Ceasefire, Israeli and Hamas Attacks Continue; Dow Set to Snap Losing Streak on Promising Jobless Numbers; U.S. Treasury Calls for Tax Scrutiny of Crypto Assets; Blinken Holds First High-Level Meeting with Lavrov; BBC Issues Apology For Diana Interview Failures; Source: Israeli Security Cabinet Voted To Agree To Ceasefire. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 20, 2021 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS HOST: With an hour to go, the Dow would appear to be set to snap its losing streak. We are off the highs of the day. Look

at the numbers. Look at the chart and you'll see over 200. Thirty four thousand, we are above with a couple of peaks and troughs, it looks like

that we are holding steady. Let's see if it remains that way for the next hour.

The markets are as they are, and the events of the day. The fires continue to rage in Gaza, despite hopes of a ceasefire breakthrough.

U.S. Treasury is the latest to announce a crackdown on crypto.

And the European Parliament has announced new details on the E.U.'s vaccine passport system.

We are of course live in New York. It is Thursday. It is May the 20th. I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.

Good evening. Amid continuous airstrikes and rocket fire, there's cautious hope that a ceasefire in the Middle East could be in the offing. A Hamas

official said a halt to violence could be imminent.

Israel's Security Cabinet has been meeting this evening. A military spokesperson told CNN there are no indications of a ceasefire yet. The

Israeli Prime Minister has so far shrugged off intense international pressure to stop the bombing campaign.

The unrest continues in the region. This fire broke out after an Israeli strike today in Gaza. There was an eight-hour lull in the rocket fire from

Gaza overnight. It's the longest since this round of conflict broke out. However, by morning sirens in southern Israel, sirens were sounding again,

warning of incoming fire from Hamas.

Our Nic Robertson is the CNN international diplomatic editor. He is in Ashdod, not far from the Gaza border. Good to see you, Nic.

So let's start with the ceasefire. Do we know -- is there a plan on the table being discussed?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: By the Security Cabinet or by diplomats elsewhere in the region? Because by diplomats elsewhere in

the region, there does seem to be something that's in the works, and Hamas has given an indication that they believe that it can come to fruition, as

you were saying.

The Israeli Security Cabinet meeting right now has been remarkably tight- lipped about it. There is that international pressure and particularly from the United States on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But no word from

that Security Cabinet yet on which direction they are going.

We heard from Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister earlier saying that the country and the military is prepared and ready for an escalation of the

targets of this conflict, if necessary. So the political space and the military space are there for this to continue.

You know, to try to answer your questions specifically, we just don't know what's happening inside that meeting. The atmospherics around it point to a

ceasefire at some point, but we're not there.

Standing on this balcony an hour ago, there were incoming rockets from Hamas and interceptors fired up by Israel's Iron Dome system. So from where

we stand at the moment, the ground reality is there isn't a ceasefire in place now.

QUEST: Nic, if both sides know that a ceasefire is inevitable, be it sooner or later, and it might be sooner, judging by the sort of indications, is

there a feeling that either side had better get it done now quickly? In other words, ramp it up because you know it's going to stop quite shortly.

ROBERTSON: Two reasons for that. From Israel's perspective, there are definitely targets that they still want to remove -- more of Hamas's

rockets, more of their launcher sites, more of their commanders, more of their weapons stores. From a Hamas perspective, it wants to come out of

this looking like it has come out as the victor so they'd like to have a big final flourish, if you will, and attack some of their really big

targets, probably Tel Aviv, and probably Jerusalem.

And I think indicative of what we are hearing about the security at Ben Gurion Airport tonight, we understand has been essentially stood down as

best we can assess at the moment, which is an indication that Israel is concerned that there could be this really big push coming from Hamas.

But equally, you know, in Gaza they will be concerned again that Israel has this target list, and it may be trying to sort of crush in a shortened

timeframe, really intense round of bombardment.


QUEST: Nic, we're here for two hours. So please -- if and when, you know, it is late at night where you are, I am sure you are getting off to sleep

soon, but do come back and report more. Thank you.

Now, we've seen a flurry of diplomatic efforts, as Nic was talking about to influence the situation. At the U.N., Israeli, and Palestinian diplomats

exchanged accusations of genocide, each explaining why a ceasefire would now only offer a temporary reprieve.


RIYAD AL-MALIKI, PALESTINIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): Israel with its state of the art arms is targeting families as

they sleep to sow the seeds of terror. The occupation targets our people generation after generation. This criminal Israeli occupation has caused so

much pain, which cannot be solved by a truce and a ceasefire.

GILAD ERDAN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ISRAEL TO THE UNITED NATIONS: You cannot fire at our capital and then pretend you want a ceasefire. Israel

wants a ceasefire. But only after significantly degrading Hamas's terror machine. We are looking for a cure and not a Band-Aid.


QUEST: Merav Michaeli is the leader of Israel's Labor Party. She is with me now from Tel Aviv. Thank you, ma'am, for joining us.

"We want a ceasefire, but only after we have degraded Hamas's terrorist capability." Do you agree with what he said?

MERAV MICHAELI, MEMBER OF ISRAELI KNESSET AND LABOR PARTY LEADER: Well, first and foremost, thank you for having me. Let's remember that Israel did

not initiate this round of war with Gaza, and protecting our citizens is a country's most fundamental obligation.

We are doing so thankfully with the development of Iron Dome, so we are able to avoid severing, I would say this and escalating the war with Gaza

because we have less casualties.

At the same time, Israel is making every effort in using really accurate missiles to avoid casualties on the other side as much as we possibly can.

But, remember that Hamas after all is a terror organization acting deliberately from within population centers.

QUEST: So, hang on, hang on. Let's be clear on this. And I hear what you say, but a ceasefire, we're told, is in the offering. Are you aware of any

proposal for a ceasefire?

MICHAELI: Well, I know it is being talked, and I think it's the right thing to do. And let's remember, you know, I am the -- as you mentioned, the

Chair of the Labor Party, and I am in opposition to Netanyahu. I think Netanyahu's policy on Gaza specifically and on the Israeli-Palestinian

conflict is wrong. And as I believe and I know that most Israelis are interested even now in going back to a negotiation for finding a solution

for this conflict, I know we are all united in the need to protect ourselves.

QUEST: Right. So, everybody who I've spoken to over the last 10 days or so, they all say the same thing, and I am sure you'd agree, as indeed you've

heard from the United Nations, that it's best to ceasefire as a Band-Aid until negotiations begin on a two-state solution or on the question of the

occupation from the Palestinian's point of view it's a nonstarter.

Can you see any way in which those fundamental issues start to get talked about?

MICHAELI: You need political will. You need the political will both on Israel's side, which for this, we have to replace our government. But, at

the same time, let's remember that the Palestinians are in dispute among themselves. And while as I mentioned I disagree with Netanyahu's policy to

weaken the Palestinian authority and strengthen Hamas, still, the fact remains that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority cannot agree among

themselves and cannot create one address with which Israel can even negotiate.

So, as I said, I am a believer in finding a way to go about these things, but you cannot look away from the fact that there is a very deep problem

also on the Palestinian side as a starting for negotiations.

QUEST: Right. It's distasteful to talk about this when people are dying, but do you believe that there is a political element in the Prime Minister

continuing to prosecute this? Bearing in mind that he could well be facing a fourth general election in very short order.


MICHAELI: Fourth or fifth, it depends who is counting and from where you are starting the count. But the thing -- I mean, it's bad enough that this

question is hovering over Israel and that people are -- many people in Israel feel that way and think that way.

I mean, from where I stand, this alone is a major problem for a country that has such doubt in the legitimacy of its Prime Minister's actions. This

is our work to you know, handle and to really find an end to the political crisis we're in.

QUEST: Thank you. Of course, I miscounted. I had my list here and I miscounted. You're right, of course, as I'd expect.

MICHAELI: I know how it feels -- it's not you, it us.

QUEST: Well, I got the numbers wrong. Thank you. Thank you for joining us. We'll talk more as it progresses. And of course if there is a fifth general

election, we will certainly be talking a great deal more.

A big departure at a major Chinese tech company. The creator of TikTok says the role of CEO is not for him. Why? After the break.


QUEST: And we're back. A solid day, solid. Good solid day. The Dow is set to stop its three-day losing streak. It's up over 250 points. We're heading

back up again. Off the highs of the day as you can see that was mid- morning-ish, and there was a bit of a trough in the early afternoon. But I think what you're seeing here is just buying after beating up and investors

are optimistic about the recovery.

New jobless numbers also helped boost that, 444,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment last week. That's several thousand fewer than

expected and the lowest point of the entire pandemic, and there you see the chart.

In fact, overall, CEOs are more confident now than they've been in the last 45 years. It's the new survey from the Conference Board and the Business

Council. You see confidence is at 82 percent compared to 34 percent during wave one of COVID.

And trust in CEOs is also growing. A report from Edelman shows people trust their employers more than they trust businesses, NGOs, governments, or the

media. And that trust has been rising. Richard Edelman is with me, Chief Executive of Edelman. He is with me from New York via Skype. Richard, it is

good to see you, sir. You're looking well and that's great and a blessing in itself.



QUEST: The trust barometer tells us what? That CEOs did a good job over the last year, that things are sort of getting back to normal and CEOs can be


EDELMAN: Richard, I think that a year ago, government was the most trusted institution. We had the big bazooka. It was trying to solve a problem as

large as World War II, and here we are a year later, and businesses emerged as the most trusted institution, significantly higher than government.

And even across those issues that are classically in the government remit - - education, health, even vaccine information, it is business that has the advantage over government. So there are all these new loads onto the

private sector, and it is sort of like Atlas holding up the world, and the question is, which issues the smart CEO will pick? It's not smart to take

on every issue of society.

QUEST: Before we do the which, let's do the why, and why has government gone from hero to zero?

EDELMAN: I think it is, you know, slow acceptance of immunization, slow application in some countries. Also economic disparities. In our study, we

found a record difference in opinion between the mass population, which is flat lined, and the elites who are soaring along with the markets.

And we also see that there are a lot of fears, Richard. The pandemic trauma that's been inflicted on the world is significant. The extent -- two-thirds

of people say I'm still in a sort of pandemic mentality, and in fact, getting a shot doesn't change your attitude very much. You know, only 19

percent of people who get vaccinated want to fly versus 16 who haven't been vaccinated.

So, again, the return to the workplace is really in question unless we can change people's mindsets.

QUEST: This idea, though, but you see, I also have a theory that it won't be long before mindsets do get changed and as memories recede.

On the trust question, how important will it be that companies are seen to -- or not seen, but actually do keep their promises? I'm thinking about

Goldman and JPMorgan who are now saying you're coming back to the office.

And every company -- and you're a CEO of a large company. You are having to juggle that issue between your staff who I'm sure have told you they want

hybridization working versus the reality that you might prefer them in the office.

EDELMAN: So, I think this return to workplace is the ultimate crucible for business and business can't do it alone. It has to be partnered with

government. Taking the subway, flexible hours, some kind of litigation coverage, you know, for someone who might get sick in transit. All of these

things have to be done in partnership.

And, for example, in New York, for instance, if September 1 is their sort of return to work date, it has to be a joint effort. The idea that business

can do all of these societal issues on its own is delusional. It's wrongheaded, it's too risky. Because particularly between societal issues,

for example, dealing with systemic racism or sustainability, absolutely wage levels, business can lead on those.

But government has to lead on education or health systems or transit safety and even on return to workplace with the rules of the playing field.

QUEST: I just want to talk, before we leave you tonight, I just want to talk about: did you see the story during the week? And we'll go into more

details. But the idea of the man who started TikTok who turned into a sensation. His name is Zhang Yiming. He says he's not CEO material. He is

not social enough to be a CEO.

He likes reading and listening to music and things like that. Do you think there is a CEO aura that you have to have that is outgoing and is not

introverted if you're going to lead?

EDELMAN: There's a new set of skills for CEOs. You've got to respond to the reality that 80 percent of your employees want you to be able to speak up

on the issues of the day and you have to be able to listen broadly in society and then choose which of those you are going to apply the company's

muscle behind.

For example, on sustainability, are you going to change your supply chain? How are you going to talk to your employees on the first anniversary of the

murder of George Floyd? All of these require CEOs as public diplomat.

And then we're going to have voting rights bills in all sorts of states and how do you speak on that? So, again, the idea of having sensitivity to the

political issues, for instance, U.S.-China relations on TikTok is urgent matter for CEOs.


QUEST: Good to see you, Richard. Thank you. I appreciate it. Keep well.

EDELMAN: Thank you.

QUEST: Now, a bitcoin rally was dowsed by the U.S. Treasury Department who says it will crack down on the use of cryptocurrencies to evade taxes.

Bitcoin fell back below $40,000.00 after the announcement. You can see it on the screen there.

But the way in which the gyrations is suddenly quite extraordinary. The U.S. Treasury now says it wants businesses to report cryptocurrency

transfers worth $10,000.00 or more to the I.R.S. as if it were cash.

Clare is with me. Clare Sebastian, we shouldn't be surprised that Bitcoin - - I mean, that 10,000 is a number that is used by customs, by transfers, gets reported to the I.R.S. But a Bitcoin is not on the books to start

with. You're relying on people's honesty to report it.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is something that the I.R.S. and Treasury have been working on, Richard, for a long

time. We know that they already tax Bitcoin as property. So it's like a capital gain if you sell it, you pay tax on the gain. I want to show you

also the individual tax return for all of you to see.

I've highlighted the question where they say -- at any time during 2020 did you receive, sell, send, exchange or otherwise acquire any financial

interest in any virtual currency? That is right under where you put your address.

So they are really trying hard to stop people from hiding any sort of virtual asset. This move today just applies to businesses as you say, over

10,000, they now have to report.

Interestingly, the report from the Treasury says cryptocurrency already poses a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity

broadly including tax evasion.

So really calling it out, really stepping up their enforcement -- Richard.

QUEST: Yes. But you see, this is one of those classics, isn't it? They are not going to find out about it because let's take earnings. You've got a W2

in the United States on one side, you've got -- the employee says they've got on the other. There's a way in which interest from the bank is married

up computer-wise. How do you marry up a transaction other than to note that there isn't the other side of it? You know, the company spends 10K or 15K

or 100K and there isn't another side?

SEBASTIAN: Right. And how also do you know the fair value, Richard, when we have seen yesterday 25 percent down, 25 percent up within space of a day,

people who might have had more than 10,000 at the beginning wouldn't have had more than 10,000 at the end. It is a very tricky problem when it comes

to cryptocurrency.

And I think it is interesting to note that on the one hand while you have the Treasury cracking down. On the other hand, we have the Federal Reserve

coming out today, Jerome Powell saying that the Federal Reserve is looking into -- it's going to release a discussion paper this summer on the

possibility of what is called a Central Bank digital coin.

This is something that other governments are looking into. Have a listen to what he said about this.


JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We expect to play a leading role in developing international standards for CBDC's engaging actively

with Central Banks and other jurisdictions as well as regulators and supervisors here in the United States throughout that process.


QUEST: So, a digital dollar, for want of a better word, what benefit is there other than it will gain the benefit of sort of ease of transactions,

like, since a digital dollar will be a de fact issued by the Fed, it will be monitored by the Fed, there will be all the same monetary restrictions

in place because it will be part of the money supply.

SEBASTIAN: And that is exactly the point, Richard. I think what you'll see if you look back over the sort of recent history of this is that

government's efforts to do this, and it is something that the European Union is working on, and China is quite far ahead in its development of the

digital yuan, it really stepped up in the wake of Libra when it became clear that private companies might be able to sort of dominate this area.

Central Banks didn't want to lose control. But in terms of what the Fed is saying about it, they say, this is going to be a compliment to existing

payment systems. It might help improve financial inclusion, speed up payments, things like this. It is basically, look, everyone is doing it,

the Fed and other Central Banks have to be doing it, too. And they say they want to get public comment over the summer about it.

QUEST: And the E.C.B. is also doing it. We know that Christine Lagarde at the E.C.B. is working on something similar as is the Bank of England and

the Bank of France and the Swiss Bank and all of them.

All right, good to see you. Thank you, Clare Sebastian.

We were talking a moment ago with Richard Edelman about the man who helped turn TikTok into a social media sensational. Now, this CEO says he is not

social enough to run the company, ByteDance.

He is Zhang Yiming and he joins a select list of corporate leaders who basically said, "I'm no good at this" or "It's not for me."

Apple's Steve Wozniak said he missed the fun of company's early days, so he went off to design a universal remote instead of staying at Apple.

Paul La Monica is with me. He joins me via Skype. Why has he got -- not Wozniak -- I mean the Chinese gentleman, what has he got? I mean, what was

it that he didn't like?


PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes. It sounds like he did not, through his own admission, like some of the day-to-day business

responsibilities that come with being a CEO. Now, keep in mind, he's not stepping away from ByteDance or TikTok entirely. He's just going to focus

on the things he likes to do, and he admitted that he is not the most social of people. He likes to really just get into his work and develop the


And I think that is a skillset that is great for a company like ByteDance and TikTok. But you are going to be the CEO of a global company, you

obviously need to have other broader skills such as the acumen to run a global business that is dealing with various headaches in other markets

like the U.S., what they had last year when the Trump administration threatened to shut them down, and, of course, competition with many other

social media firms like Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat.

So I think what he is doing is admitting that there are skills that he has and there are skills that he doesn't, so he's not going to pretend to be

something he's not.

QUEST: Do we know whether he was pushed?

LA MONICA: We don't get a sense that he was pushed, and I think what's interesting is that his co-founder and, you know, college roommate who is

the head of Human Resources for the company is going to be stepping up. And, again, he's not going away. So this doesn't seem as if it's a type of

scenario where you have someone that is being put out to pasture, so to speak.

I think it really is, if you take him at his word, a reflection that he has better -- a better chance of serving this company in a different capacity.

QUEST: Paul La Monica, thank you.

Now, as we continue, unrest in the West Bank continues. Israel's U.N. Representative says a ceasefire now would only be a Band-Aid. In a moment.



QUEST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINES in just a moment. We'll be back in the Middle East where speculation grows that a

ceasefire could be announced and could be announced soon. A new case reopening plans could be determined by an urgent race between the vaccines

and the variance. We'll have a lot for you in a moment.

But first, we do need to update you with the headlines because this is CNN and here on this network the news always comes first.

U.S. Your Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held his first high-level talks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. It was ever during

the Arctic Council in Iceland, where they spoke about the growing friction between their countries. The -- Mr. Blinken pressing Mr. Lavrov on Russian

aggression against U.S. allies and to also discuss potential cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

The E.U. says its vaccine passports will be ready to use by July the 1st. Officials call the European COVID-19 vaccines certificate, a new legal

safeguards and an incentive to trust as the block opens up for travel over this summer.

The BBC has apologized after an inquiry found one of its journalists used in its report deceitful methods to secure an iconic 1995 interview with

Anne, the Princess of Wales. The investigation found that Martin Bashir used fake bank accounts, fake bank statements to draw Diana in and that the

BBC then covered up facts about how Bashir got that interview.

Now some breaking news, I was just alluding to there from the Middle East. A source with knowledge of the discussions tells CNN Israeli security

cabinet has voted to agree on a ceasefire. They say Israel's security cabinet has voted to agree and Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. Nic Robertson is

with us from Ashdod. Let's do the nuts and bolts before we do the interpretation, Hadas.

I understand, we believe that they've agreed this. Do we know any details of what they have agreed?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, I'm being told by a source familiar with the knowledge of cabinet discussions that the security cabinet has

discussed a possible cease. They discussed the possible ceasefire for more than two hours, they voted to approve it. And we are expecting an official

announcement to come very shortly. Now in terms of the details of the timing we are seeing reports that it could take effect around 2:00 a.m.


We are still working to confirm that. We are also still waiting to hear officially from Hamas if they have agreed to this as well. But the

potential here, Richard, is that this evening, 2:00 a.m. potentially local time we may see a ceasefire. We do know, though for sure that the Israeli

cabinet has approved the ceasefire to take effect. Obviously, after more than a week, almost two entire weeks of this conflict potentially a

ceasefire finally coming.

QUEST: Right. I feel free to say that we don't know because we haven't been told. Do we have any idea what might be the guts of this ceasefire?

GOLD: So far, not entirely clear. But we do know that Israel before this has -- Israeli officials have all have been saying that they want -- they

need quiet to be met with quiet, so that means no more rocket launches. But there is a fear as there has been in the past that in the hours leading up

to the actual ceasefire taking place that there could be a sort of last hurrah of sorts, more rockets fired.

And as far as we can tell, the military is still in a position to potentially respond. They have not necessarily retreated or removed

anything quite yet. The ceasefire still has not been officially announced yet. But as far as we can tell the Israeli cabinet has approved this


QUEST: Nic Robertson. 3-1/2 half hours to go before this potential ceasefire comes into effect. We are waiting to hear official confirmation.

Hadas, when there is something to tell us please feel free to just interrupt because you're getting the information. Nic Robertson, a last

hurrah, would you expect that before any ceasefire?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, as you said, 3- 1/2 hours to go and the beginning of the week, we had heard from senior Hamas officials saying that one of the preconditions that they objected to

for the -- from the ceasefire that was being discussed them was -- is the Israeli side saying that Hamas should go on to a ceasefire three hours

earlier. We have heard in the past few minutes after that decision came down from the security -- from the security cabinet we have heard Israeli

fighter jets flying overhead here.


ROBERTSON: We are not seeing any reports of strikes. At this time there is and has been that concern of a last hurrah. It's not impossible. As we

know, you know, there were security warnings for Ben Gurion Airport this evening. So that would speak to Israel's concern about that. So I don't

think we're out of the woods yet. And so -- but I just -- one wouldn't want to predict to be perfectly frank, one wouldn't want to predict it's all

possible but this does seem to be in the wind down phase.

QUEST: Right. So, it's one more for you, Nic. If it's in the wind down phase, waters driven, this (INAUDIBLE) ceasefire, has it just been that

both sides have exhausted themselves to the point where they're open to it, or has the international pressure paid off?

ROBERTSON: There's been a sense since early on that Hamas feels that it's scored a victory because it's been able to garner more support for itself

in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. If you listen to some of its leader speaking in the past couple of days, they've talked about how they -- Hamas

have also been able to sort of bring the people onto the streets in support of what's happening in Gaza, onto the streets in the West Bank, onto the

streets, in Jerusalem.

And that for them is a political score against Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, political body. This is, you know, internal Palestinian politics

at play and what Hamas really wants to be at is on a par politically recognition internationally with Fatah and they want to be the dominant

political force for Palestinians. So for them that -- that's, if you will, a plus. I think for from the Israeli perspective to be able to push this

longer with the support of the, you know, the international friends and allies saying that Israel has the right to strike back has been able to

take out more of Hamas' military capability.

The rockets, the rocket launchers, their senior commanders, the tunnel system that we've heard so much about. So that's been the fact that this

has been pushed days longer, has been important for Israel, I believe in for Israeli citizens, that gives them a greater sense of security. So --

but the pressure internationally has sort of slowly -- essentially, it appears brought, you know, the leadership in Israel Prime Minister

Netanyahu to make that judgment.

I can't push this any further at the same time of pressing the security of Israeli citizens. I can't push it with the international community. But

when we hear more details about the ceasefire, when we hear how it gets laid out --

QUEST: Right. OK.

ROBERTSON: You know, I think we may get a clearer picture from the leadership how well they think they've done against Hamas.

QUEST: OK. Back to Hadas in Jerusalem. How will this play out? How will this play out do you think in domestic Israel?

GOLD: Well, domestically, this has already had a significant effect on the political calculations here because the day actually that we've got those

rockets fired towards Jerusalem, that morning, I was being briefed by sources in the anti-Netanyahu block that they were going to be forming a

government within the next week or two. They were confident that they had the numbers in order to N Prime Minister Netanyahu's reign is the longest

serving Prime Minister of Israel.

Then a few hours later, those rockets were launched on Jerusalem and this military -- this military campaign began in Gaza. And soon the calculations

changed because Naftali Bennett, the leader of a small right wing party, who was a key element of that anti-Netanyahu block changed his mind and

decided that he was not going to join the anti-Netanyahu block. He was going to stick with -- potentially with Netanyahu that completely changed

the calculations.

Now we're likely going to be facing another elections for Israelis later this year. All of that means that Prime Minister Netanyahu will stay as

prime minister throughout all of this. So, for him the -- this conflict completely changed the political calculations. It doesn't seem as though

the anti-Netanyahu block will likely be able to pull those numbers together. And Netanyahu stays where he is.

We are also just getting this right now, Richard, from our colleagues at the White House that President Biden will issue a statement once the White

House has confirmed the ceasefire. He's currently meeting with top aides in the -- in the Oval Office. This is according to our colleagues in

Washington. But all of this coming very quickly. And we should be hearing an official statement very soon about the ceasefire.

QUEST: Right. Both of you, with long experience of all of this, there's clearly something going on whether this turns into a full ceasefire or a

cessation or whatever. There's obviously something brewing tonight if the White House has already talking about responding to it. I'm just wondering

what it's likely to be at its core, Nic. What's likely to be the point -- I mean, the point is to stop the fighting but it's obviously not going to

deal with anything to do with the underlying issues.


QUEST: And it's a band aid that the U.N. Rep said, Israel's U.N. Rep said. So where does it go once tonight ceasefire kicks in?

ROBERTSON: Well, there will be an effort perhaps to try to draw Israel towards -- again, you know, towards incremental political steps that will

lead with the Palestinian authority and potentially Hamas somewhere in the future to a greater level of political agreement about those core issues. I

suspect there will be some language in it along those lines. There might be some language in it where Israel tries to -- tries to sort of build in, you

know, some small but important details into it such as the retrieval of bodies of soldiers who were killed in the conflict in 2014.

Outstanding issues like that, you know, could be in there as well. There's a perception that the international community is less willing to stump up

the hundreds of millions of dollars that they give in aid to Gaza over, you know, over the years, they give that aid, Gaza gets rebuilt after these

confrontations and then some of it gets knocked down again. And that aid is requested for again.

We've heard the U.N. saying they need an immediate flash aid of 38 million for immediate need right now. But it's going to need hundreds of millions

to do the rebuilding of all the -- of all the damage. Perhaps there's going to be some contextualization in there that tries to, you know, that tries

to shape a scenario whereby the international community is -- doesn't feel that it's dragged into a situation of paying for the cost of all the


QUEST: We'll leave it there, Nic Robertson. Thank you. Hadas, I can see you're looking down. Is there anything else that you wanted to just add to

that, Hadas, before we take a break?

GOLD: Yes. So, we are just received -- we are just receiving a word that -- the official word, the political -- I'm reading from a statement right now.

QUEST: Please.

GOLD: And I'm sort of translating from Hebrew, the political security cabinet unanimously accepted the recommendation of the security officials,

the Chief of Staff, the head of the Shin Bet, the head of Mossad and the head of the National Security Council to accept the Egyptian Initiative for

a bilateral ceasefire which will take effect at a later date. So the political arsenal emphasizes that the reality on the ground will determine

the continuation of the campaign that's sort of a warning there, that while they are accepting this ceasefire, that they're -- that if things change on

the ground, then that could change the calculations here.

QUEST: No, hang on a second. There's a lot in there. Firstly, congratulations on your translation in real time which was -- which was

excellent. But look, just go back through that slowly again, because there was a lot in there. The security cabinet has agreed the outline of a

ceasefire that will take place at a -- at a date toward, a point to be agreed. The Egyptian -- go ahead.

GOLD: Yes. So what we are seeing report -- reports is that this will be taking effect at 2:00 a.m. tonight. From this -- from this statement, we

don't have a specific time but that is what we are seeing the reports that it would be at 2:00 a.m. But what we see from the statement is that the

cabinet has accepted the recommendation to accept the Egyptian Initiative for bilateral ceasefire. And -- but they are noting and they are

emphasizing that the reality on the ground will determine -- will determine whether they continue the campaign.

So, that's the official statement from -- that's the official statement right now from the security cabinet. But as we speak, I mean, I just got a

notification potentially of more sirens going off, but goes just to show you that despite the fact that there might be a ceasefire being announced

that might take effect in a few hours. The situation on the ground is still ongoing, and we could still see more rockets firing and more actions


QUEST: OK. So, stay with me. Nic Robertson, the reality on the ground, that's a sort of get out of jail free card for the Israelis. If they don't

like the way things are looking, then they can say that the reality on the ground means we don't go ahead with this ceasefire.

ROBERTSON: All the pause for pause, the quiet for quiet doesn't hold past a week or so. Remember, go back to what we heard from Hamas officials at the

beginning of the week saying that one of their preconditions and I -- and I believe I'm just hearing an explosion in the background behind me there not

quite clear how far away it is. What Hamas officials have told CNN was that Israel should stop its provocations in Jerusalem.


ROBERTSON: And here it means about the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. And it's not quite clear how they're going to interpret that because remember, that

was one of the things that if -- one of their warnings to Israel, that and the other provocation that appears that they're talking about or they were

talking about earlier this week was Israeli border police going -- and there's another explosion, Israeli border police going in inside Al-Aqsa

Mosque which was the Palestinians for them was considered -- that was a huge explosion, considered a major provocation.

On those points, Hamas has laid down a warning earlier in the week at least that Israel that it wouldn't tolerate it. So is that warning still there?

So, yes, there are there are ways that this could break down.

QUEST: Right. But what is either --


QUEST: Oh, so are hearing explosions in --

ROBERTSON: Oh, yes. There were explosions behind me. Absolutely for sure.

QUEST: Right, right. Either of you, the Egyptian Initiative, do we know -- do we know what is behind that or what is the Egyptian Initiative? And

whilst before you answer, we are looking at video, we have video of rocket fire over Gaza City at the moment which shows -- there you go.

So, I'm guessing that time dome in operation or something or something similar which shows that even though the Israeli security cabinet has

accepted a recommendation to follow the Egyptian Initiative towards a ceasefire, it doesn't take effect for some hours to go.

Now back to the two of you. Do either of you know what is the guts of the Egyptian Initiative that they have accepted? Or are we waiting for those

details too?

GOLD: Well, I think we're still waiting for more details to come out. The official statement from the security cabinet is calling it a mutual

unconditional ceasefire. And the official announcement says the time will be agreed upon later. And we are hearing from sources that it will be 2:00

a.m. local which corresponds to what CNN is hearing elsewhere from sources in Hamas that this will be at 2:00 a.m.

But as you're seeing and you're hearing right now, just because the ceasefire may be announced that will take place in a few hours, that

doesn't mean that the action will suddenly stop on the ground as we speak. And the real test I think will come of course is when that hour hits, when

that 2:00 a.m. hour hits local whether we will actually see that quiet from both sides, because we are hearing reports of sirens in the south


Nic is reporting, of course, that he's still hearing explosions down there. But what we're seeing right now is that the Egyptian Initiative would be a

mutual, unconditional ceasefire. And according to our sources that would take effect at 2:00 a.m. local time.

QUEST: Mutual and conditional. This is pause for pause, quiet for quiet essentially with nothing else written into it just so far. Nic, Hadas, stay

with me. And of course to both of you the moment there is more to report, please come back to us. And we will be talking with you live on air pretty

quickly. I can promise you that much. The rockets are still going over Gaza. We do not believe but we know that the Israeli security cabinet has

approved a mutual unconditional cessation of hostilities.

A ceasefire for want of a better phrase at a time to take place to be arranged or to be announced which would be probably 2:00 a.m. which is in

just three hours from now. These are the pictures of a few moments or two ago over Gaza. To use that lovely old phrase, the devils in the detail. So

we have a -- an architecture of a ceasefire. Now we need to know exactly the wheres, whys and whens.

And we'll watch out for that and as we get it will bring it to you. A good moment for us to take a break. This is CNN.



QUEST: Now, as I've told you with breaking news, Israel's security cabinet has voted to agree on a Gaza ceasefire. Israel's security cabinet says it's

accepted an Egyptian Initiative and the phrase being used is a mutual, unconditional ceasefire over Gaza. Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. Nic

Robertson is back with us from Ashdod. It is late in the evening for both of you. But I'm afraid you'll be both up for many, many more hours to go

because this doesn't take place we believe, Hadas Gold until 2:00 a.m. which is how many years from now?

GOLD: Hah. Keep it. I have to remind myself of what time it is. It is almost 11:00 p.m. local here. And so, we still have a few hours ago if this

does take place at 2:00 a.m., which is what we understand is the time that this ceasefire will take place. But the -- as far as we know, this is what

we know, Israeli security cabinet has accepted the Egyptian Initiative for a mutual and unconditional ceasefire over Gaza.

Of course, as we are seeing there that just because a ceasefire might be announced to be taking place in a few hours, it doesn't mean that things

are going to be quiet on the ground. And one thing that Israelis and the Israeli officials are still worried about is what will be sort of the last

say potentially from militants out of Gaza in the last few hours before the ceasefire because military officials are often worried about sort of the

militants in Gaza wanting some sort of victory picture to show something for what they've done over the past few weeks.

Whether that will be another rocket barrage towards Tel Aviv or elsewhere potentially even towards Jerusalem like how this to -- two weeks ago when

they fired rockets on Jerusalem that for Israel is a red line. And then of course, will the Israeli military respond to any sort of rocket barrage? I

think these next few hours will be incredibly tense. Everybody will be paying very close attention to what happens that down there.

QUEST: Let me just update some news. Nic Robertson is with us as well. Hamas apparently has agreed to the same Egyptian Initiative, Nic Robertson.

So, we wait for three hours to see. Well, first of all, we watch to see just how much more they decide to get one in so to speak, before the

ceasefire takes effect. And then we wait and see if it helps Nic Robertson in Ashdod.

ROBERTSON: Yes, we're -- we've heard in the last, I suppose 10 minutes or so, Israeli fighter jets overhead. Clearly they are positioning themselves

for the potential of that last big push by Hamas that would step over the boundaries of this Egyptian Initiative. So, you know, it does seem to me

the Egyptian military is postured and ready if they need to respond and what we

hearing from the Israeli Defense Force is that from a military perspective, they are saying that they have achieved their objectives.

I think this is a sort of language we were expecting because this would be by definition from the perspective from hear, how they can put themselves

in a position of saying, let's have a ceasefire because we've achieved the objectives. They've talked about taking out more than 100 kilometers of the

tunnel network and reducing their weapons making capability and capacity. But yes, right now, probably you can fairly say a hair trigger for that big

potential big push.


QUEST: And we'll take a break after that. And Nic Robertson and Hadas Gold. Thank you. We'll talk more in the next hour about this Egyptian Initiative

and the conversation that took place today between President Biden and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt, their first conversation, and we'll have some more after the break.


QUEST: Now allow me to update you with the breaking news at the top of -- Israel's security cabinet has voted to agree on a Gaza ceasefire by saying

it's accepted an Egyptian Initiative from the phrase being used is mutual unconditional ceasefire over Gaza. Hamas has confirmed --excuse me, Hamas

has confirmed it's agreed similarly to the mutual ceasefire with Israel. A short while ago these were the video and pictures that we saw coming to us

from Gaza.

Rocket attacks are continuing. The ceasefire is unlikely to take effect for another three hours. So, we'll be watching to see exactly what military

activity takes place on either side. And we'll be back with more in the next hour. Jake Tapper picks up after the top of the hour.